ASSEMANI°, Lebanese-Maronite family of Orientalists who were active in Italy. The most important member of the family, JOSEPH SIMON (1687–1768), was director of the Vatican Library. During two visits to Egypt and Syria, sponsored by Pope Clement XI, he bought thousands of manuscripts for the Vatican Library. Assemani edited a catalogue of Oriental manuscripts in the library, which was planned for 12 volumes, but because of a disastrous fire, only four volumes dealing with Syriac manuscripts were published (1719–28). STEPHANUS EVODIUS (1707–1782), his nephew, issued a catalogue of Oriental manuscripts in the Florence Library (1742) and with his uncle prepared a catalogue of all the manuscripts in the Vatican Library; but only the first part, a catalogue of Syriac and Hebrew manuscripts, appeared (3 vols., 1756–59). This was the main reference work for Hebrew manuscripts at the Vatican. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: P. Dib, Joseph Simon Assémani et ses deux neveux: leurs testaments (1939); Catholic Encyclopedia, index.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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